Sure is messy around here

Jan 292002

Recently, as I approached a Transfort shelter to wait for the bus, I had to tiptoe over and around shards of glass littering the sidewalk. Upon reaching the shelter, I realized that the glass had come from a gaping hole in one of its enclosing panels. As biased as I may appear in admitting this, one of my first thoughts was “I wonder how drunk the student who did this was – immature little punk.”

I acknowledge that in my haste to establish responsibility for what very well could have been an accident, I may have jumped the gun in assuming that a CSU student was to blame for this particular incident.

However, I must also point out that my assumptions about the responsible party were not entirely unfounded. In my time here at CSU, I’ve seen a great deal of vandalism and property damage committed by students.

It was during the two and a half years I spent working as a student-hourly custodian with the housing department that I developed my sense of cynicism regarding the aptitude of many of my peers to distinguish between right and wrong. The rest of my time here at CSU. has only contributed to the strengthening of this skepticism.

My time in the residence halls included, among many other distasteful tasks, cleaning human feces from furniture in public areas, mopping up urine from rather obscure and surprising spots, and wiping vomit off walls and room doors. On too many occasions to count, I was also called on to scrub graffiti off of bedroom walls, bathroom stalls, and numerous hallways.

Documenting property damage for repair or replacement was also a significantly time consuming task. Students quite consistently punched holes through windows, kicked dents in doors, and ripped various dispensers from walls.

The damage I’ve seen in other areas of campus and around Fort Collins reveals that the destruction I’ve described is not unique to the residence halls.

What exactly is it that motivates one to carry out these sorts of behaviors? I wonder what races through the minds of college students as they scribble profanity on walls and then proceed to bust a window. Do these behaviors actually result in feelings of satisfaction? Is there, for even just a brief moment, any thought given to the individual who will eventually be responsible for cleaning up the mess?

Most worthy of note, in considering this matter, is that it seems that quite often the perpetrators of these senseless acts of destruction are the more privileged students of this campus. It seems it’s easier to destroy things when you’ve never personally incurred the cost of destruction or the labor of resulting custodial work.

There is a certain degree of refinement that has traditionally been associated with a college education. What I feel obligated to reveal to some of you, though, is that this refinement isn’t dealt out with the degree you receive from this institution nor is it something that can be bought for you by mom and dad.

My hat’s off to all the custodians, groundskeepers, and maintenance workers on this campus and in Fort Collins.

Veronica Garcia is a senior majoring in sociology.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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